Why Exercise? You Get These Extras

Tennis, golf, and swimming offer some unexpected health benefits.

The sun’s out, and the tennis court beckons — but so does the chaise longue. Andy Wadsworth, author of the new Complete Practical Encyclopedia of Running, Cycling & Fitness Training, suggests you consider the unexpected benefits of summer sports, then haul yourself out of the reclining position.

Surprise payoff:
Stronger glutes and abdominal muscles. Building up these muscles helps prevent lower back pain by stabilizing the spine and hips. “While you play, you’re doing lots of squats and lunges, which target your butt and abs,” Wadsworth points out.

Surprise payoff:
Better balance. Each year, one in three adults over age 64 trips and falls; injuries from falls are a leading cause of death in that age group. “Hitting a golf ball requires a great deal of hand-eye coordination, which translates into your muscles knowing what to do when,” says Wadsworth. “If you have that muscular awareness, you’re less likely to fall down if you do trip.”

Surprise payoff:
A stronger upper body. After age 30, you start to lose muscle mass, which can lead to weight gain and weaker bones. “Most people don’t do anything to strengthen the upper body,” says Wadsworth. “Water offers resistance to keep those muscles working.”

Beth Dreher

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest